Celebrations

Bangles

I lean back on the recliner adjusting my frame for maximal comfort and rest my arms across my torso. My eyes fall on the silver bracelets that encircle my wrists. Burnished silver specked with brown beads. I finger them lazily and my thoughts go back to the weekend. A montage of memories slide past my eyes in slow motion.

My friend for over a decade hunched over the tall bar stool, patiently applying henna to my palms. Her brows furrowed in concentration as she traces pattern after repetitive pattern. She looks tired but plods on till my palms are covered with green henna paste. My back aches but I am happy. The kind of happiness that comes from seeing things fall in place neatly. Tile after tile in measured intervals completing the pattern.

henna

The day breaks, I wake with a smile and head down to make coffee. Amma is already down resplendent in a cream sweater and a green silk saree with a dull shine. Flower intricately twined in a pattern that looks festive and classic at the same time. She busies herself toasting rice and mung dal for a feast that is traditional as well as nutritive.

The sounds and the chatter gather in force. Five little kids waking, hungry for attention and milk. Haphazard sleeping arrangements are swept out of sight and sounds of the shower running emanate from every corner. Silk kurtas, smell of coffee and tea mix with sights of two chairs adorned with silk sarees awaiting the women to be feted. A table laden with fruits, flowers, turmeric, vermillion and bangles stand silent testimony to the events yet to unfold.

I survey the scenes before me. It fills me with nervous excitement. I step into the silent cocoon that is my wardrobe. I pick out the black Mysore silk and accessories to go with it. A good twenty minutes later, the door locked behind me, I wrap the saree and look at myself. Kohl lined eyes, traditional jhumkis twinkle in my ear. A string of gold beads circle my neck. My locks which have grown longer in the past seven months are tied back and graze my shoulder blades. The rich maroon of the saree border contrasts well against my woven blouse. I pin and tuck away parts of the saree till I am ready. I take a deep breath and go out to start the day. A day meant for me. Specially.

blacksaree

Walking down, I spy friends who have now become family. I smile. My face is radiant and I know it. The rest of the morning is a riot of color. Of sarees, salwars, garlands, bangles and fruits. As friend after friend steps in front of me to slip glass bangles on my wrist, I relax further. This is it. A culmination of years of angst and desire. A rite of passage much craved for and fulfilled.

valakaapu

I move from group to group catching up, posing for pictures and trading hugs and being blessed in abundant measure. The food trays are half empty. The kids sit by the table eating bright yellow pineapple kesari with relish. I feel joy swell inside me as I see my little ones in silk skirts and blouses. Necklaces around their neck and tiny bindi adorning their forehead. They look at home. It is as much their day as it is mine.

Impromptu hugs and kisses reassure me that Ammu and Pattu are as much overwhelmed by what is happening as I am. Saathi and I pose for pictures and as Saathi’s hand envelopes my shoulder. I feel at home. This is all it was meant to be. Two pieces of one whole.

Slowly the crowd dissipates, I send each person off feeling deeply grateful for the part they played in my day. People I have known for years and people I was meeting for the first time. They were each threads in an intricate pattern that my life has been over the years.

As I ease into sleep on the recliner, all I feel is a deep sense of contentment.

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